Aside from being a legal requirement, the unsubscribe links in your marketing emails are more than just a way to lose subscribers, and you can actually put them to good use. When one of your recipients decides they want to opt-out, you still have three goals to achieve before they leave.
Make it Easy – First and foremost, protect your sender reputation by always making it easy to unsubscribe. If a recipient can’t unsubscribe, they’ll just file a spam complaint or mark it as junk, so the whole process should be as clear and simple as possible. The actual unsubscribe link should not be obscured in any way and there should be no hoops to jump through in order to unsubscribe, which applies especially to the next two items below.
Provide Preference Center Options – You can improve subscriber retention by offering a link to an email preference center on your unsubscribe page. Some recipients may choose to remain subscribed if they can adjust how many emails they receive or better tailor the content to their liking. Just make sure that your efforts to recoup subscribers don’t interfere with goal #1.
Collect Feedback – After a recipient unsubscribes, ask for feedback on what made them leave. Too many emails? Content not relevant? Content too basic, or too advanced? Ask any question you think is relevant, and use comment boxes for the questions you don’t think to ask. Every unsubscribe is like a mistake to learn from: “OK, they unsubscribed. What can I do differently in the future to prevent this?” What you learn via feedback will help you identify causes of churn, but it can also help inform what your segments look like and what options you provide in your preference center. And again, the feedback should be optional, not required: protecting your sender reputation should always be the priority.
Losing a subscriber that’s no longer interested in your content was never really a big deal because the probability that they’d convert was so low, but with these improvements to your unsubscribe process that small loss may actually become a net gain. So instead of cringing every time you lose a subscriber, embrace it, and put the inevitable opt-out to work for you.
About the author
Jake Hoiby is an email deliverability expert that manages email systems, sender reputation and user compliance. He teaches small businesses how to avoid common pitfalls of email marketing and ensure their email reaches the inbox. In his spare time you’ll find him building, automating and tinkering with just about everything.